WWD.com/business-news/financial/hartmarx-bankruptcy-could-close-hickey-freeman-flagship-in-ny-2056516/

NEW YORK — Hartmarx Corp.’s bankruptcy appears ready to claim the Hickey Freeman flagship at 666 Fifth Avenue here.

This story first appeared in the March 9, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Hartmarx Corp., Hickey Freeman’s parent, filed for bankruptcy in January and needs to pare expenses as it puts together a reorganization plan. As part of the Chapter 11 proceedings, the company has closed or plans to close three Bobby Jones-Hickey Freeman outlets as well as one full-price Bobby Jones store in Honolulu.

Real estate sources say the 4,300-square-foot unit on 52nd Street “can be made available” and is being quietly shopped around for $2,500 a square foot. The building was purchased in 2007 for $1.8 billion by Kushner Cos., which is working to recoup its significant investment.

Brooks Brothers had operated a 24,000-square-foot, two-level store in the building until January, and Abercrombie, the children’s wear division of Abercrombie & Fitch Co., has signed a lease for about half the space.

A company interested in getting a prime Fifth Avenue presence can cobble together about 10,000 square feet by renting the remaining Brooks Bros. street-level space as well as the Hickey Freeman store. One source familiar with Hartmarx’s reorganization efforts said A&F was interested in the remaining space as well. Although there is an Abercrombie & Fitch store just north of the location, at 720 Fifth Avenue, the available space is just slightly more than the average footprint of stores in A&F’s upscale Ruehl division, which operates an accessories-only store on Bleecker Street but no other Manhattan locations.

“There are a lot of lookers,” said one source. “Yes, business is difficult, but there’s only one Fifth Avenue and the location is still desirable.”

Executives at Hickey Freeman and Abercrombie & Fitch didn’t return phone calls seeking comment. A spokesperson for Kushner declined comment.